Even Experts Underestimate the Power of Twitter

christopher_iwaneThe power of Web 2.0 continues to grow daily. Both good and bad. While you still might not be that familiar with Twitter, a mini blog of sorts…unfortunately, the Global PR firm, Ketchum has recently had a quick study on what NOT to do with it. Let’s all try to learn something here, because it could easily have happened to anyone who still does not appreciate the clout of social media.

The irony in what happened here could not have been fabricated any more fascinating.

Recently, James Andrews, an account executive/vice president with Ketchum a global public relations agency had just landed in Memphis to meet with one of their noted clients, FedEx. The purpose in his meeting? To give a presentation on the power and influence surrounding social media, of which Twitter is rapidly becoming a major force. Upon arriving in Memphis, he used his personal Twitter account to post his feelings of the moment.

“True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say, ‘I would die if I had to live here.’”

Obviously someone had already done a pretty good job of making their client at least privy to the concept of social networking and specifically Twitter. FedEx marketing executives were already following Andrews and read his Tweet (comment). They, being quite proud of their hometown of Memphis, took great offense and immediately expressed their feelings on the subject in a personal message to him.  You can read the response in it’s entirity as well as more on the incident by David Henderson, author, communications strategist and Emmy Award Winning former CBS News Correspondent’s site, but the last of it is noted below:

“Additionally Mr. Andrews, with all due respect, to continue the context of your post; true confession: many of my peers and I don’t see much relevance between your presentation this morning and the work we do in Employee Communications.

(Signed as a personal message by a member of the FedEx Corporate Communications team)

Thus, the beginning of what could turn out to be one of the most noted case studies on “What Not to Do” when social networking.

There are so many things wrong with this, on some many levels. From being a PR professional who should know how to prevent a communication crisis, much less create one to the incredibly growing power of Social Media. The irony of it all is fairly entertaining albeit at someone’s expense, but my interest in it is more about the influence social media has and will continue to have in this rapidly-changing environment.  This incident is all over the blogoshere and does not seem to be going away for awhile. Ketchum has maintained it’s client for now, but has surely lost some credibility, and not only with FedEx.

How did I find out about it? On Twitter. Making this is just another example of how a lack of understanding Web 2.0 during these challenging times simply will not fly as businesses strive for survial or certainly leadership. It appears that even Mr. Andrews who was selling the concept, did not grasp its potential impact.

The good news is that Social Media allows for innovative thinking – a necessity during these challenging times, that evokes a rapid and immediate impact. The bad news is that although it allows for innovative thinking – a lack of respect for it’s power, still evokes a rapid and immediate impact. You can use it wisely and prosper or not understand it and fall even further behind. One thing is for sure. It is here to stay and is becoming more powerful by the minute.

This is an example how how two global business organizations have been affected in a big way, but more importantly for Sheconomy, we need to remember that women are online and women LOVE to network using the likes of Facebook and Twitter, among others.  Let’s not forget Motrin’s recent fiasco.

To summarize, social media is an excellent opportunity to be innovative in reaching women and knowing how to communicate appropriately becomes even more prevalent.


Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

5 Responses to “Even Experts Underestimate the Power of Twitter”

  1. Not that I’m totally impressed, but this is more than I expected for when I found a link on Furl telling that the info here is awesome. Thanks.

  2. […] I started this post with a mention of Ketchum so plan to finish with one too. What a good example of how not to use social media. Off to give a talk to one of their largest customers on the use of social media a senior representative of Ketchum arrived at their town and made a twitter post “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say, ‘I would die if I had to live here.’” This post was subsequently seen by somebody at the company he was going to visit. A company who are fiercely proud of the town where they are based. To see the full story click here. […]

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  4. The purpose of Twitter is to receive and deliver short messages from other Twitter users. Many use it strictly to interact socially, but Twitter is also becoming a essential tool for internet marketing. 

  5. Twitter is essentially a free social networking website where it allows members to send and also read messages that are called tweets. The tweets are available for a person’s follow to view, but the good thing about twitter is that you can also restrict the tweets to certain groups or friends to see. And because of the fact that twitter is free and simple to use, a lot of people use them. People today are now taking advantage of Twitter by promoting their products or to promote their businesses. You can even use Twitter to promote your web page or website in order for you to get targeted traffic flowing into your web site and start making some money.

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